Inside IONIC

BGAV Tradeshow Convention

This week IONIC attended the Baptist General Association of Virginia’s annual general meeting and convention in Hampton, Virginia. The event was well attended and lots of guests visited our booth.


IONIC featured its Gratitude Grant which you can read about in another blog post here. We highlighted the offer with actual rocks engraved with the word “GRATITUDE.” These handy little gems went FAST. Attendees of the event truly enjoyed them as they reminded themselves of the gratitude we should feel every day.

This was one reason IONIC began seeking more opportunities for religious architecture: the people we have the opportunity to work with. It has given us the chance to reflect on our own gratitude for the years of support our community has provided.

At the end of the day, our team received several significant opportunities to meet with various churches to share how we could assist them in their next step of church growth.

Those who attended and dropped by our booth will receive a free copy of our “8 Considerations for Church the IONIC Masterplan.” It shares exactly what simple steps you need to consider when building or expanding your house of worship. If you would like your own copy, please reach out to us here and we will email you the link to download it.

Remember that Ionic DeZign Studios is more than a designer of architecture, we help to resolve the issues your church is facing with growth. The obstacles in your current facility are preventing the opportunity for your ministry to grow.

With more than 300 built churches, our team can address any of your concerns. Schedule a low commitment consultation to begin your journey.

IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.
Find out more about IONIC

Inside IONIC – Bart McElfresh

Who is IONIC?

Based out of our Virginia Beach headquarters, Bart is a native of the Hampton Roads community and has developed a wealth of relationships since his start in the architectural industry in 1983. With an exhaustive portfolio of religious projects, Bart has experience with just about every style of church out there. This background has given him an efficiency in understanding the client’s needs and has created many trusted relationships. In his current role with Ionic DeZign Studios, he is additionally responsible for retail development and client relations.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on several fitness related projects in Hampton Roads, which include interior build-out of Blink Fitness Center and a new ground-up construction for Chesapeake Crossfit. There is a high-end, waterfront residential property along with Haynes Furniture/The Dump renovations located in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Richmond and Chicago. We also recently were awarded The Webb Schools Vivian Webb Chapel Renovation Master Plan in Claremont, California. I’m really excited about that possibility.

What inspires you?

I’m always inspired by great design. When any design – whether it’s a building, a product, a park or plaza, sculpture or some other type of art or even something digital – feels fresh, elegant and timeless all at the same time, it’s great design.

How do you like to spend your free time?

I love to travel and thankfully get to do so quite a lot. I really enjoy experiencing other cities in a non-touristy way. In the past year, I’ve spent time in Dublin, London, Dallas, Atlanta, Seattle and also Amsterdam – which is probably my favorite city in the world. Next year – Buenos Aires!

Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

“In my experience, the simpler a design appears the more complicated it is to pull off!”

Two offices to serve you better. Headquarters in Hampton Roads. Second office in Central Virginia.
Find out more about IONIC 


IONIC Vision: Creating Places and Spaces that Enrich the Lives of Those Who Use Them.

“Inside IONIC” posts, designed to help you get to know the talented, innovative team at Ionic DeZign Studios.

IONIC in Chicago

Our office is working toward approval with the Architectural Design Commission and Planning Commission for a new furniture retail store.  It has taken several trips back and forth to Chicago to meet with all the approving jurisdictional parties. Planning Commission, Architectural Design Commission and now we are headed to their Board of Trustees. Basically, the same thing as a City Council hearing.

So far, all has gone well without issues. We hope to begin the construction documents soon for both the exterior and interior to be ready by December once we get the final approvals in place.

Be sure to check out more of our work on our website.

Headed to the Lone Star State!

I’m polishing off my cowboy boots and heading down to Arlington, Texas to attend the National Association of Church Design Builders (NACDB) Annual Member Meeting on Tuesday. IONIC is a proud NACDB member and this is a fantastic opportunity for me to connect with my fellow NACDB peers and stay up to date on this important market we serve.

Arlington Convention Center, here I come! Watch our social pages for updates from my trip. Maybe I should pick up another pair of boots while I’m there!

18-Year Anniversary

This month, we celebrate 18 years in business. We also celebrate two years of our office in Richmond. It is amazing how time flies so quickly. It seems like yesterday I was working out of the house. Me, Myself and I. Now, we have two offices with 17 team members and we continue to grow. Never would have imagined that so many years ago.

While we celebrate 18 years of business as IONIC, our Richmond office (acquired in 2015) was originally William Henry Harris and Associates. They have been around for nearly 35 years practicing with a focus on religious architecture. Excellent history.

With our current reach and breadth of work, we cover thirteen states and have specialized in restaurant, retail, office and financial institutions. Not to mention our strong portfolio of historic projects along with multi-family, residential and educational-based designs.

Let IONIC help explore the growth and development of your project. Contact us for a consultation to explore how we can help you. Thanks again for all those who have helped us and supported our team over the years. You have made us successful.

Wendy’s Convention

IONIC to Showcase Services at 2017 Wendy’s Restaurant Convention

When we received an invitation to exhibit at the Wendy’s Convention, we were beyond excited! IONIC has had the pleasure of handling architecture and planning for hundreds of Wendy’s restaurants over the years, collaborating with Wendy’s corporate office and franchise owners across several states.


What Happens in Vegas…

So, we’re heading off to Las Vegas this week to set-up at booth 2515 in the Supplier Expo. This year, the convention runs from 9/17-9/20, with an estimated 3,000 attendees expected.

Dahlia White, Director of Restaurant Architecture for IONIC, and I will be meeting with franchise owners to discuss their Wendy’s restaurant project vision. We’ll follow-up to address their specific needs, balancing them with requirements, deadlines and budget, to help them create their signature Wendy’s restaurant.

Live from the Show Floor at Mandalay Bay!

Keep an eye on our social posts over the next several days as we will be sharing photos and highlights from our upcoming Wendy’s trade show experience. You can check out our featured restaurant projects, including a Wendy’s restaurant design at

Inside IONIC – William Henry “Harry” Harris III, AIA

Based in our Richmond, Virginia office, Harry has an extensive architecture background and is known for establishing enduring, successful business relationships. In his current role with Ionic DeZign Studios, he is responsible for business development and client relations.

What are you currently working on?

I am currently working on several church projects in Virginia, which include additions to St. Thomas More Catholic Church in Lynchburg, a Master Vision Plan for Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Powhatan County and renovations to the Sanctuary at the Glen Allen Church of Christ. I’m also working on a new multipurpose addition to Bear Creek Baptist Church in Bakersville, North Carolina.


What inspires you?

Assisting our church clients in realizing their vision by enhancing their facilities to accomplish their mission and ministry within the church’s community.


How do you like to spend your free time?

From a young age, I have enjoyed sailing and I currently continue to sail the Chesapeake Bay whenever possible on my sloop, “Sapphire.” There is nothing more refreshing than manning the helm of a sailboat on a brisk day on the bay with all sails aloft.


Do you have a favorite quote or saying?

“Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.” Psalm 127:1


Is there anything else you would like to share?

I have had the good fortune to assist the youth of Richmond through my 35 plus years of service with the Kiwanis Club of Richmond. Our life safety programs for at-risk children and our annual Christmas party for the patients at the Children’s Hospital are always inspiring.


Also, as a board member for more than 30 years, and a past vice president of Elk Hill Farm, Inc., a treatment program for at-risk boys and girls in the Central Virginia region, I have been inspired by its success. The program has grown from one campus treating 30 students, to five campuses treating more than 700 youth. Our design of the Singleton Chapel at the Elk Hill Goochland Campus continues to be my favorite Sacred Space design project.

This is the first in a series of “Inside IONIC” posts, designed to help you get to know the talented, innovative team at Ionic DeZign Studios.

3rd Street Bethel AME Church

Ionic DeZign Studios, Inc. has been awarded the contract to provide design services to preserve the historic Third Street Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Richmond, Virginia. The church is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places and the project is being funded through a National Park Service grant. As part of the preservation of African American civil rights movement sites, Third Street Bethel AME Church was one of 39 projects in 21 states to receive funding.

The funds will be used to stabilize the 1856 Gothic structure, where trailblazing African-American Maggie Walker addressed the Right Worthy Grand Council of Virginia in 1901, saying, ”Let us awake” and urging them to “start and do good in our ranks,” establishing a bank, a newspaper and a business empire in Richmond’s African American community during the infancy of the Civil Rights movement in Virginia.

Be sure to follow up on our progress as we share along the way. Check out other church projects at

We currently have offices in Virginia Beach and Richmond to better serve you.  757.499.3510.

IONIC Welcomes Soloman Peterson

Ionic DeZign Studios is pleased to announce that Soloman Peterson, Architect, AIA has joined the IONIC team serving in the position of Branch Director in our Richmond, Virginia office located at 3307 Church Road, Suite 200. Soloman has relocated from Nashville, Tennessee to join the firm and will focus on day to day management of the office, management of projects and business development along with building and fulfilling client relations.

Soloman has over 30 years of experience in the design professions, most recently serving as Director of Business Development / Senior Project Manager for Lose & Associates, a multi-disciplinary firm.  He previously served as Director of Architecture and Business Development with Crabtree, Rohrbaugh & Associates / Architects, opening and managing their Charlottesville, VA office, and prior to that served as Director of Architecture and Engineering with Lantz Construction Company in Broadway, VA.

Soloman also operated his own practice based out of Charlotte, NC for nearly 20 years and the first project he completed was in 1986 for the Pearson Signature Dealerships Richmond Honda location. He is the Architect of Record on well over 100 Virginia projects including completed projects for Richmond Public Schools, Chesterfield County Government, Rockingham County Public Schools, and the City of Harrisonburg as well as a broad array of private projects; most notably including the recent renovation and expansion of the historic Wayne Theater for the Wayne Theater Association located in Waynesboro, VA.

Soloman excels at leading integrated project teams in the collaborative delivery of planning, architectural and branded environment projects and will be joined in the office by a staff of 2 registered Architects and 3 associates to serve the current and future clients of the firm in Richmond and throughout central Virginia.

Please feel free to reach out to us if we can assist you in any way with your architectural or interior design needs.